Technology firm ABB on Wednesday enabled a successful trial of remotely operated passenger ferry, Suomenlinna II. With this trial, ABB successfully tested the enhancement of ship operations with technologies that are already available for nearly any kind of vessel.
"With this historic trial in the Finnish capital’s port last week, ABB and Helsinki City Transport took the next step in autonomous shipping", the company said.
"We are excited about the potential impact of this test on the future of the maritime industry,” said Peter Terwiesch, President of ABB’s Industrial Automation division.
Suomenlinna II was retrofitted with ABB’s new dynamic positioning system, ABB Ability Marine Pilot Control, and steered from a control center in Helsinki.
Speaking after the voyage, Captain Lasse Heinonen said: “The progress we have made with the remote trial has been remarkable. I believe we are on the right track to exploring further possibilities of this technology as we move forward.”
"Thistrial represents a crucial step toward increasing the maritime industry’s acceptance of autonomous operation systems", the company said.
The trial took place during the vessel’s off hours, away from shore with no passengers aboard, in an area free of other vessels. While it is now equipped with the new dynamic positioning system, the vessel will continue to operate via a set of conventional onboard controls, with the remote mode deployed during the trial only. Research and development will continue with the ferry and her crew.
Suomenlinna II, originally built in 2004, is fitted with ABB’s icebreaking Azipod electric propulsion system. Additionally, the ferry was retrofitted with ABB Ability Marine Pilot Vision situational awareness solution in 2017. Suomenlinna II operates year-round, undisturbed by the harsh winter conditions that affect all other modes of transport in the Helsinki region. ABB Ability is ABB’s leading offering of digital solutions and services.